Menu Plan Monday

We had such a fun weekend. Hiking and exploring in the mountains, enjoying the beautiful weather and glorious views.  The leaves were gorgeous, the temperatures just chilly enough to warrant a nice, roaring fire and yet not so cold that we were stuck in the cabin all weekend. It was just about perfect.

We enjoyed some of these:

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And lots of this:

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And some fantastic vistas:

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And now we are back to real life today.  No one wanted to get up this morning, we were all still in vacation mode.  The creatures were happy we were home, though, and Scooby Cat has been following me around like a little black shadow ever since I walked in the door last night.

Still figuring out what we are going to do exactly for meals this week. Some of it is easy – leftovers from the weekend, or food I bought to cook but didn’t cook because Mom had other things to cook.  Some of it is based on special requests from the little monkeys…

  • Monday: Chicken noodle soup – special request from the girls
  • Tuesday: Hamburgers & hotdogs (leftover from the weekend)
  • Wednesday: Lasagna – I’m craving it.
  • Thursday: not sure yet – most likely leftovers.
  • Friday: Pizza! (with extra sauce from the lasagna)
  • Saturday: grilled steaks (leftover from the weekend, but frozen so they can wait) with baked potatoes and grilled veggies

That’s it for me. What are you planning for the week? Have you taken up my challenge? Three menu plans for the next three weeks?

I’m also doing some baking today – need to  make some fresh bread and I’m planning to use up some brown bananas by making a double batch of banana bread.  I’m also making some baked oatmeal for my ladies’ bible study group tomorrow morning. Busy, busy, bee!

And now I’m off to catch up on email and other things online. Limited internet and phone access over the weekend. It was glorious, but now I need to see what the world was up to this past weekend!!

Hop on over to orgjunkie.com for some more great menu planning ideas!!

Menu Planning Tips & Thoughts

I’ve had so many of you say to me in conversation – “I don’t know HOW you do all that menu planning!” or something like “I just can’t do that menu planning like you do.”  And, usually, I smile and say something banal in response… but what I am really thinking and what I really want to shout at you is –

WHY NOT!?!?

It’s not like it is hard.  It is not complex.  It is actually SO VERY EASY and it makes SUCH a HUGE difference in your stress levels, your family’s schedule, your family’s eating habits and your budget!

It’s almost crazy NOT to menu plan.

Seriously.

I’m sorry, as I write this, my critic on my shoulder is telling me that I probably shouldn’t be so “in your face” with this as I am being. But this is truly how I feel. 

It seems daunting, I know.  Overwhelming, at times, I’m sure.

But it is SO WORTH IT to at least TRY it.

So, I have a challenge for you.  For the next three weeks, I want you to PLAN YOUR FAMILY’S MENU for dinners for the week. One menu per week for three weeks.

And to help you do that, I’m going to give you some suggestions – so that you will have a place to get started and to help you not feel so overwhelmed.

It’s not as hard as you think it is, I promise. If it was, I wouldn’t be doing it.

Let go of the notion that you have to plan meals for every single day of the week.

I never do.

I usually plan for 3-4 definite meals and then 1-2 “maybe” meals –

things I can cook if plans change or if something doesn’t appeal to me on the day I was planning to cook it.

I never adapted to the idea of specifying which day I would cook what.

It seems to rigid to me and I didn’t like the thought that I’d have to cook tacos on a night when I really wanted soup instead.  So, instead, I come up with my list of menu items and then I pick and choose what I will cook that day based on how I feel, what food needs to be cooked first, weather, kids’ requests, etc.  I have a general plan in mind, but I leave it open to the flexibility my life demands. You can too. Don’t feel stuck in having to cook exactly in the order you plan.IMG_0286

Pick at least one family favorite per week

– one sure thing that you know everyone will love and that you can fix easily.

Try to pick at least one crock pot or oven- type meal per week.

Make one day easy on yourself – pick something you can toss in the crock pot or oven and forget about until it’s time to eat. You will love this and it will free up time for you to do something else you might otherwise not get to do because you’re busy cooking – like spending some time with your kids – or taking a walk!

Another advantage is that these type of meals usually have leftovers and you can count on two meals from one preparation! (or some really good lunches if there isn’t enough for another family dinner)

Check your freezer and your pantry before you plan

What can you cook that you already have? Save some money and utilize what you have before you go shopping.

There are some great money saving ideas on this post over at Beauty and Bedlam regarding saving money for your groceries. I’m not a big coupon girl – too many of them are for processed foods and I’m trying to stay away from those things these days… but there are still some great ideas there beyond the coupon tricks.

Try to focus on cooking from scratch and not from “convenience” foods

This may sound counter-productive – why wouldn’t you utilize Hamburger Helper or Shake and Bake to make your dinnertime easier?  Well, for a couple reasons – one, they are more expensive, two, they usually are full of processed ingredients, preservatives and goodness-knows-what-else, and three, they usually don’t simplify things THAT much. I have found that it is just as easy to make my own homemade “shake and bake” when I need it than it is to pay for the already-made stuff. And I control what goes in there – making sure my family gets the healthiest, freshest ingredients I can buy.

It’s not really THAT much more difficult or challenging to cook from scratch – and the payoff is so much better for you.

Utilize websites to help you plan

Check out AllRecipes.com or Menu Plan Monday over on orgjunkie.com – there are lots and lots of websites with links to menus and recipes.  Don’t be afraid to pick one new thing each week to try out.  You will increase your repertoire of recipes to use and hopefully find some new family favorites!

Think about leftovers and include them in your plan.

This was something I didn’t learn for a long time. I would plan five or six meals, thinking we’d have one night to eat out or something and then I’d end up with all of these leftovers and no  idea what to do with them.

Now, I plan for at least one night where we’ll eat leftovers. Some nights that is just a “free for all” type meal where I put everything out and each person picks what they want and we warm it in the microwave. The girls like these “buffet-style” dinners (as I call them – it’s all about the marketing!) as they feel like they have control over what they eat.

Other nights, I plan for a ‘reinvented’ dinner – where I plan to utilize leftovers to make something entirely new – like using the grilled chicken leftovers from one night to make chicken & rice soup for dinner another night (something that wasn’t on my original menu this week, but soup that a rainy night called for)

Here are some other tips and tricks from some of my older posts:

And so, now, the challenge is out there for you – will you accept it?

Will you give menu planning a try?!?

YES – YOU! I’m talking to YOU!

Please do.

I really, sincerely, hope you will. It’s scary to start, but once you get in the groove, it is oh, so freeing. Liberating to have one less thing to worry about – to not have that 4PM panic of “oh, my gosh, WHAT am I going to cook for dinner?!?”

If you are going to join the menu planning bandwagon, let us know in the comments… I’d love to know how things go for you – and I’m HAPPY to help you get started – cheering you on as you go!!

Menu Plan Monday ~ 4 Oct

I’m not going to be cooking much this week.  That is because I spent a lot of time cooking this past weekend. We had company all weekend and dinner guests Sunday night – I cooked several big meals and we’ll be enjoying the bounty of leftovers for a few days.  I love it when that happens.  I love cooking, so it’s not a chore to me, but it is really nice when you cook a little extra and can take a break – especially after a marathon cooking session.

Here’s what we have planned for the week:

  • Monday: Rotel Chicken Pasta Bake (leftover from Sunday night)
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti (leftover from Sunday lunch – may make this into baked spaghetti to mix it up a bit)
  • Wednesday: Chicken and Dumplings (using leftover chicken from the 2 5-lb chickens I grilled this weekend)
  • Thursday: Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan (using leftover spaghetti sauce from Sunday)
  • Friday: BBQ Ribs & baked acorn squash

That should take us through the week quite well.  I have no idea what we will do Saturday night – SuperMan and I have plans and so the kids will probably do something easy like pizza.

What are you doing this week?  Any good recipes to share?
Join us over at orgjunkie.com for your Menu Plan Monday.

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Menu Plan Monday ~ 20 September

mealplanmonday_v2Planning out this week’s menu wasn’t too difficult. 

I knew I wanted something special on Tuesday (it’s my birthday) and then I had a list of recipes I’d flagged from other menus I’ve seen – so it was just a matter of pulling it all together into a single list.

Big Girl is home sick today so I think I’m going to change my original plan and make some soup for tonight’s dinner.  Here’s what’s on the agenda for the week:

  • Pasta Fagioli (this is major comfort food for me – my grandma used to make this)
  • Grilled steaks, boiled & buttered potatoes, steamed broccoli (This is my birthday dinner)
  • Stir Fry Chicken (a friend made this for us for dinner Sunday night – it was yummy)  I’ll make this with whole wheat pasta and maybe add some more stir-fry veggies.
    She also made this for dessert – it was sooo good. I will be making it here at home as soon as I get the ingredients. I think I can make a sugar-free version that would be just as good. If you like Reese's peanut butter cups, you need to try this. It tastes like a cold, pudding version of a peanut butter cup.
  • Meatball Subs (I’ll make a variation of this recipe and let the girls help me make the meatballs. I think they will like that.) Cheesy Volcano Meatballs

Friday, we will be eating out and the weekend will be filled with SuperMan’s high school reunion activities.

What are you eating this week?  Join us over at orgjunkie.com and link up your Menu Plan Monday.

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Menu Plan Monday ~ 30 August

Happy Monday, everyone!

This week will be an interesting one for us. SuperMan is going on a new work schedule and won’t be home until after 7 each night (boo!) which means that the girls and I will be on our own for supper most nights. This will be a challenge for me. What to cook that the girls will enjoy/eat and will still be appetizing for SuperMan when he gets home…

Here’s what I have planned for the week:mpm-1

  • Twice-baked potatoes with a salad
  • Chicken Parmesan
    This will be a new one to try on the kids. I don’t know if they will like it or not.
  • Steaks cooked on the grill with fresh veggies and buttered potatoes
    This is usually a SuperMan-cooked dinner. It will be interesting to see how I do cooking steaks.
  • Pizza Braid
    I saw this recipe last week when I was perusing other Menu Plan Monday posts. Have to try it.
  • Sloppy Joes with homemade french fries & fresh fruit
    Kid-friendly & fast – good for one of those nights we have dance classes.
  • Chicken Pomodoro
    I have had this on my list for two weeks and haven’t made it yet. Maybe this week?

 

What are you cooking this week?

Join us over at orgjunkie.com and share your menu plan!

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Menu Plan Monday ~ 23 Aug

mealplanmonday_v2 Got lots going on this week.

So glad I have planned out my menus. We have dance classes on Monday/Wednesday and Friday this week, plus curriculum night/PTO on Wednesday night and a knitting session for me on Thursday evening.

Without the plan, I think we would devolve into eating a lot of junk and fast food. This way, I know my family is getting healthy food and I can control fat, protein, and portion sizes.  Not to mention we have great leftovers for lunches.

As you can see we’re back into the chicken routine.  I’ve been finding chicken thighs on sale at the grocery and substituting them for the breasts in menus where I can. They are juicier than breasts and easier for my tummy to digest. The rest of the family doesn't seem to mind, either.

Here’s what I have planned for the week:

I’ve included links to all the recipes since so many of you have asked me for them.  Most are mine, a few other folks’.  All are posted on AllRecipes.com so it should be easy for you to access and print.

Join us over at Menu Plan Monday on orgjunkie’s blog – you can get some great ideas for your own dinners and share what you’ve got planned as well!  There are some great recipes over there – I was picking up a few ideas myself this morning that may show up in my own menus in the next few weeks.

 

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